The Guru (2002)

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Released 2-Jun-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio
dts Trailer-Piano
Audio Commentary-Daisy von Scherler Mayer & Tracey Jackson
Audio Commentary-Jimi Mistry
Music Video-Round Round - Sugababes
Deleted Scenes
Gallery-Photo
Theatrical Trailer
Teaser Trailer
Trailer-Ned Kelly; Johnny English
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 90:31
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (53:09) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Daisy Von Scherler Mayer
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Heather Graham
Marisa Tomei
Jimi Mistry
Michael McKean
Dash Mihok
Emil Marwa
Raahul Singh
Malachy McCourt
Ajay Naidu
Anita Gillette
Case ?
RPI $34.95 Music David Carbonara


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Hungarian
English Audio Commentary
Hungarian Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Hungarian Audio Commentary
Hungarian Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Guru is a well-intentioned but patchy comedy, written by Tracey Jackson and directed by the abundantly named Daisy von Scherler Mayer.

    Young Ramu Gupta spends his early years being weaned on a diet of Indian Bollywood movies, but yearns for the "exotic" dancing in Western movies such as Grease. The film follows Ramu (Jimi Mistri) as he moves to New York City, spurred into searching for superstardom as a dancer by his friend Vijay (Emile Marwa) and his tales of his red sports car and penthouse apartment. Within minutes of arriving in the US, Ramu realises that Vijay's car is in fact a yellow taxi cab, and the only penthouse he owns is the latest copy of the eponymous men's magazine.

    Ramu is forced to work in mundane jobs, such as waiting in Indian restaurants, serving boorish yuppies and generally being treated like a second-class citizen. Desperation and naiveté drive him to apply for an acting role with Ramrod Productions and after an hilarious audition (Tom Cruise eat your heart out), the penny slowly drops and Ramu realises that he has secured a part in a pornographic movie. The silver lining in his cloud-laden sky is that his co-star is the stunningly pretty Sharonna, played by the stunningly pretty Heather Graham. Unable to perform his acting duties due to the presence of the camera and crew, Ramu offers to pay Sharonna for psychosexual coaching, in return funding her wedding cake for her upcoming marriage to Rusty (Dash Mihok).

    In a strange twist of fate, Ramu attends an upper-crust party to serve as a waiter. The parents of the family are trying to humour their wastrel daughter Lexi's (deftly played by the delectable Marisa Tomei) current faddish interest in all things spiritual and have themed the party around the attendance of a "famous" Swami. Unfortunately, the only spirits the Swami makes contact with are of the distilled kind and he passes out. Ramu steps in at the last minute and soon has the gullible partygoers dancing the Macarena whilst marvelling at his wisdom - which of course is all stolen from the life experiences of Sharonna.

    Ramu assumes the role of full-time "Sex Guru" and sleeping partner of Tomei. To feed his growing fame and fortune he continues his lessons with Sharonna, ripping off her experiences and wrapping them up in a saffron-scented samosa of wisdom for the gullible American people. This exploitation tale is intertwined with Tomei's self-discovery and the inevitable budding romance between Ramu and Sharonna. After what seems like an eternity, the film reaches an all-too-predictable conclusion and generally happy ending.

    This film started out very well. The initial scenes set in India promised a fun time ahead, with some witty and insightful exploration of the differences between Eastern and Western cultures. Unfortunately, the early promise soon fades and the film degenerates into a fairly standard romance flick - with group dancing. The Guru is not a bad movie per se. The colourful Bollywood dance numbers are well choreographed and great fun. It just somehow feels a bit too long, which is surprising given its fairly standard running time of 90:31.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The overall video transfer of this disc is very good, as should be expected for such a recent vintage movie, but falls just short of reference quality.

    The film is presented in a (measured) widescreen ratio of 1.85:1 which I assume is the original theatrical aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is very sharp with no unintentional grain. Most of the film is brightly lit, but where relevant shadow detail is very good, blacks are rock solid and there is no low-level noise.

    Colours are excitingly used throughout, with some great colours in the Indian scenes and the traditional costumes in particular. There is no sign of colour bleeding. Skin tones are very good throughout.

    The transfer has no noticeable MPEG artefacts. Film-to-video artefacts crop up occasionally in the form of some minor aliasing, for example on cars at 4:59 and 9:04, on chairs at 55:53 and on the stage at 66:28. This was never really distracting. Edge enhancement was occasionally noticed, but for such a sharp transfer was mercifully minor. The transfer has a few very minor film artefacts. The significant artefacts in the opening Bollywood scenes were surely added for effect.

    There are English (for the Hearing Impaired) and Hungarian subtitle tracks available. The English subtitles follow the dialogue very closely.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change located at 53:09. Whilst not perfectly located, it is just after a character has finished speaking, and falls pretty nicely into a natural pause in the dialogue. On my system, this was one of the briefer layer changes I have seen.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The overall audio quality of this disc is good, if unremarkable.

    There is a choice of English audio with either a 384kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 or dts 5.1 track to tickle your fancy. I sampled both, but listened mainly to the Dolby Digital track, and could detect no difference between them if truth be told. Either will suffice, and neither one seems to suffer any significant audio defects.

    Dialogue was always clear and I did not notice any significant issues with audio sync.

    The original music is credited to David Carbonara but to be honest, most of the time the soundtrack seemed to be filled with popular music. The Bhangra songs are immensely catchy, and the other music - particularly the Grease songs - makes the music a foot-tapping highlight of the movie.

    The soundstage is very frontal and really does not make a great deal of use of the available bandwidth in either the dts or Dolby Digital soundtracks. There is very little directional sound and the surround channels are only lightly used to carry the music and occasional sound effects - perhaps to be expected in a comedy.

    There is no significant LFE activity from the subwoofer and whilst on my system it carried some bass from the musical numbers, it is largely redundant.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are quite a few extras on this disc, including two commentary tracks.

Menu

    The menu is lively and brilliantly coloured. With its rocking Indian soundtrack, it certainly gets you into the mood of the film. It allows you to select languages, subtitles, one of twenty chapter stops or the following "Bonus" materials.

Trailers

    There are several trailers on the disc:

Feature Commentary 1

    Daisy von Scherler Mayer (director) and Tracey Jackson (writer) present a fairly interesting commentary with a focus on the actors, troubles with boom mikes and the like.

Feature Commentary 2

    Actor Jimi Mistry presents a rather laid-back commentary, with significant silences throughout. I found this to be rather boring listen, although it contained some interesting behind-the-scenes information such as the use of a CGI crowd during the Broadway theatre scenes!

Music Video

    Quite a nice video of the very talented Sugababes singing the Bhangra inspired Round Round (4:03). Presented in a letterboxed ratio of 1.85:1 non 16x9 enhanced, with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.

Deleted Scenes

    Presented letterboxed in a ratio of 2.14:1 non 16x9 enhanced, with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps. These rough-and-ready deleted/extended scenes run in sequence for a total of 8:57. The scenes are:

Photo Gallery

    Presented as an automatic stream of pictures with various backing music from the film and that fantastic psychedelic graphic, these run for 1:17. One of the more fun photo galleries I have seen.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this DVD is due for release on 3rd June 2003 and there is limited information available as to the extras it contains (the Region 4 disc appears to be the same as the Region 2 disc however). On the available information, I would suggest the Region 4 disc is the version of choice.

Summary

    The Guru is a passable comedy. Jimi Mistri shows some genuine talent and Heather Graham is as fetching as ever. It is a reasonable way to spend a rainy evening, but overall I felt that it wasted its potential and slightly overstayed its welcome.

    The video quality is very good, as should be expected for such a recent movie.

    The audio quality is technically good but unremarkable.

    The extras are plentiful.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationONKYO TX-DS484
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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